Bring Your Own Spring: Tips for Growing a Windowsill Garden

By Christie Matheson

The calendar says it’s springtime, but anyone still dealing with piles of snow or chilly temps might beg to differ. Still, the sun is higher in the sky and we are getting more daylight. So even if you’re stuck inside, you can add a little spring to your life by planting a windowsill garden.

The easiest way to do this is to find small plants at a local nursery or grocery store and put them in pretty pots or windowsill boxes (find the largest ones that will fit on your sill) with some potting soil. This is different from regular soil — and it’s got the right texture and nutrients for indoor gardens.

Be mindful of how much sunlight the plants need when deciding which ones to buy and where to put them. If you don’t have a sunny window, try a shade-loving plant such as begonia or ivy. Some herbs can grow in shade, too — try chives or mint. But if you have a window with southern exposure that gets 6 or so hours of sunlight per day, there are many options: you can grow vegetables, herbs such as basil or rosemary, geraniums, succulents, and so much more.

Also pay attention to watering instructions that come with the plant. Different plants have different needs. If it says to keep the soil moist, well . . . keep the soil moist. If it says it requires very little water (as with succulents), don’t drown the thing. Watering is a great way to get kids involved. Fill a lightweight watering can with the right amount of water (so they can’t give the plant too much) and let them help.

Kids also love planting seeds, and this is an especially fun activity when spring hasn’t quite arrived. Choose an easy-to-grow seed (beans, peas, carrots, poppies, nasturtiums, and zinnias are some of my favorites) and follow the directions on the seed packets for planting depth, spacing, and watering. Then be patient! It takes several days for the first hint of the seedling to poke through the soil, but when it does: MAGIC! Keep taking care of the seedlings and you’ll see progress every day, no matter what the weather outside is doing. Enjoy, and happy spring!

Christie Matheson is the author and illustrator of acclaimed children’s books, Tap the Magic Tree and Touch the Brightest Star. Her most recent book, Plant the Tiny Seed, combines the wonder of the natural world of plant growing with the interactivity of reading.

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